Updated 12:29 AM EDT Jul 14, 2019
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Rey Vargas grinded out a unanimous-decision victory over Tomoki Kameda on Saturday night to defend his WBC super bantamweight title.
Vargas (34-0, 22 KOs) made his fifth defense of his 122-pound belt in his usual workmanlike style, with the Mexican champion outboxing his Japanese opponent for long stretches of a fairly uneventful bout.
All three judges scored the bout identically: 117-110 to Vargas. The Associated Press scored it 116-111 for Vargas, who was booed by the unsatisfied crowd when he climbed onto the ropes and waved his gloves after the final bell.
“The idea was to throw a lot of punches and to have a very intelligent fight,” Vargas said. “I believe that we made this a very smart fight, an intelligent one. This is a boxer’s style, to fight with precision.”
Ronny Rios also stopped previously unbeaten Diego De La Hoya in the sixth round of a super bantamweight bout in the outdoor ring that’s famous for unpredictable results. De La Hoya was the second unbeaten fighter to lose in three bouts south of downtown Los Angeles, following Mexican super featherweight Rocky Hernandez’s loss to Venezuela’s Roger Gutierrez.
There was no drama left for Vargas, who has held the WBC 122-pound title for nearly 2 1/2 years despite not being flashy or particularly exciting.
Kameda (36-3) tried to create danger with desperate rushes and Hail Mary punches, but Vargas defended himself well. The champion threw 443 jabs — most of which didn’t land — and connected with enough scoring punches from outside Kameda’s reach to persuade the judges.
Vargas is nearly 5-foot-11, yet he still manages to make the 122-pound limit with a disciplined year-round approach to weight management. His larger frame gives him an advantage over most super bantamweights, including a 3 1/2-inch reach advantage over the fairly lanky Kameda.
Vargas was in full retreat in the 12th round, but Kameda was docked a point when the referee ruled he had hit Vargas on the break.
“I believe that he won the fight tonight, and I respect him as a champion,” Kameda said of Vargas. “I need to learn and to practice more in order to get another chance to be champion again.”
Guillermo Rigondeaux or two-belt champion Danny Roman could be Vargas’ next opponent. Vargas is eager to move up to 126 pounds, but only for the right paydays against Leo Santa Cruz or another big name.
When asked to pick his next opponent, Vargas said: “Danny Roman. We need to unify titles. Why not? I want all three titles. Danny, we are ready. I am ready whenever you want to fight. You know when a Mexican fights another Mexican, it’s a war.”
Kameda, who moved to Mexico as a teenager to study boxing, is the former WBO bantamweight champion. He hadn’t lost in nearly four years.
Rios (31-3, 15 KOs), a native of nearby Santa Ana, returned from a 19-month ring absence and won a secondary world title with his upset victory over De La Hoya (21-1), a promising prospect who struggles to make the 122-pound limit.
Rios and De La Hoya traded numerous big shots in an entertaining bout before Rios caught De La Hoya with a right uppercut, sending him to a knee. De La Hoya rose but declined to continue, and Rios celebrated the biggest win of a career that included an unsuccessful title shot against Vargas in 2017 in the same Carson ring.
“No matter how many times you lose, you can still come back as long as you believe in yourself,” Rios said. “No matter what — boxing, your career— just go for it, man. I am not done.”
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